Under the patronage and presence of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, ICCROM-Sharjah organized a symposium on conserving Sudanese heritage titled: Active Exhibitions for Active Museums” from 23 to 26 September 2019 at its premises in Sharjah, UAE.
The symposium comes as part of the ‘Community Museums of Western Sudan’ conservation and rehabilitation project for three museums, funded by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund – established to protect cultural heritage at risk due to conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. The WSCM Project was granted a Major Award of nearly £1,000,000 and started on site in September 2018 for a period of two years. The project partners are NCAM (Sudan’s National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums), Mallinson Architects & Engineers, and Cambridge University Macdonald Archaeological Institute Heritage Centre.
The project aims to protect three museums: Beit Khalifa and Bramble House in Omdurman, Khartoum; Shikan Museum, Al Abyad, North Kordofan; and Darfur Museum, Nyala, South Darfur. It is an opportunity to provide valuable resources to the Sudanese people through addressing the role of museums and how they present their cultural inheritance, with the participation of a group of workers in the field of cultural heritage protection from Sudan, and a number of specialised experts. It aims to protect three museums: Beit Khalifa and Bramble House in Omdurman, Khartoum; Shikan Museum, Al Abyad, North Kordofan; and Darfur Museum, Nyala, South Darfur.
H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has highlighted the significant importance of preserving the rich heritage of Sudan, shedding light on the positive impact of preserving Sudanese heritage in fostering national belonging and shaping the future. This came during the speech delivered by the ruler of Sharjah at the opening ceremony of the symposium which was attended by 15 members of the General Authority of Antiquities and Museums in Sudan headed by Dr. Abdul Rahman Ali, Director of the Authority. The opening ceremony was also attended by the Minister of Culture, Antiquities and Tourism of the Republic of Iraq, Dr. Abdul Amir Al Hamdani, representing the British Council – Heritage Protection Fund in the UAE, Mr. Gavin Anderson.
Dr. Zaki Aslan, Director of ICCROM-Sharjah Regional Office, delivered a welcoming speech in which he thanked and appreciated the ruler of Sharjah for his continuous support and wise guidance in supporting cultural and heritage efforts in various Arab countries, underscoring the importance of his keenness to restore and preserve archaeological sites.
Dr. Zaki Aslan reviewed the Office’s current projects as well as the efforts and initiatives in preserving the cultural heritage, stressing on the Center’s remarkable role, in cooperation with partners, to renovate a number of sites in the Arab countries as the reconstruction of the Nuri Mosque in the Republic of Iraq.
Concerning the WCAM project, Dr. Zaki Aslan stated `The project aims to help the NCAM to develop a community-centered vision for its museums. This symposium aims to enhance the prospects of preserving the distinctive cultural heritage of sites, museums and buildings that have been neglected and abandoned but remain important in the national memory as a symbol of the Western Sudan civilization and the Sudanese society.`
Dr. Abdul Rahman Ali Mohamed Rahma, the Director General of the General Authority for Antiquities and Museums in Sudan, appreciated the support of Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi to restore the three archaeological museums in Sudan, highlighting its valuable cultural heritage. In addition to supporting the various arts, cultures and sites that preserve Sudan’s history and cultural heritage.
During the symposium, H.H. Sultan discussed the importance of Sudan’s strategic geographical position, its diverse history and the importance of preserving its heritage. He also underscored the importance of caring for members of the local community. Concluding his speech, Sheikh Sultan wished success and best of luck in future joint projects that aim to strengthen the preservation of the Sudanese heritage, affirming his support for all the cultural projects for the reconstruction of Sudan.
The ruler of Sharjah toured the accompanying exhibition which included the areas of restoration being worked on in the three museums in western Sudan. H.H. was also briefed by the Sudanese delegation on the progress of work in these museums.
The workshop lasted 4 days and was attended by a group of decision-makers and professionals from the NCAM, the Syndicate of Engineers and Universities in Sudan and a group of international and Arab experts specialized in the development of the community educational exhibitions in museum.